The Pittsburgh Steelers will likely begin the season without the services of their star running back Le’Veon Bell. The 23-year-old is likely to serve some portion of his three game suspension to start the season for his DUI and marijuana charges. The league is dragging the appeal process out, but some reduction in Bell’s suspension is very likely.
This leaves the Steelers with DeAngelo Williams, Dri Archer and maybe even Josh Harris to fill the void at running back. The truth is that the Steelers early schedule is packed with teams that excel at shutting down the run. The Steelers first three games are against the Patriots, 49ers and Rams. All three teams rank in the top half of the NFL for rushing defense in 2014 with San Francisco being ranked the highest at No. 7.
Furthermore, the Patriots and Rams rank in the bottom half of the league when it comes to passing defense. Offensive Coordinator, Todd Haley, will have no problem telling Big Ben to air it out for Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. Do not expect bell cow usage from Williams when the game plan early on is to throw it deep.
If Bell’s appeal does get approved, then Williams slips back into his secondary role. His primary focus is to relieve Bell when he gets winded, a luxury that Pittsburgh didn’t really have last season.
Williams should strictly be viewed as the handcuff to Bell owners. There is no need to draft Williams without owning Bell unless you’re holding him as trade bait. If the plan is to use him as a RB2/Flex through the first few weeks of the season, then fasten your seatbelt; it could be a very bumpy ride.